Should be an interesting year as NASCAR is utilizing new cars for all three manufacturers in the Cup series. From what I saw on Speed, the new cars are throwbacks to the last generation before the COT.
As for predictions....Cup will once again be dominated by the better teams so even though they're using new cars I look for Hendricks Motorsports to lead the Chevy camp, Roush with Ford, and Joe Gibbs Racing with what Jack Roush refers to as "The Dark Side" - Toyota. I'd love to see Junior run up front more often and challenge for the title. My prediction is for Jeff Gordon to pull it together and win that elusive 5th Championship.
Nationwide should bring about new faces in the top ten. I'd look for Brad Sweet to make some noise driving for JR Motorsports. And James Buescher should repeat as Truck Champion.
I agree with 100% of your statement, all though, I'm not so sure Gordon will get that elusive 5th Championship. Don't get me wrong, I'd Love to see it; as I'm a huge #24 Fan. But, the reality is; younger talent is always emerging. Gordon showed more passion last year than he has shown in a decade, but every year ends in a bitter disappointment. I don't condone what the #24 car did at Phoenix to the #15, but I completely understand. You can only take so much before you get tired of it.....
I look for Kyle Busch and Matt Kenseth to be strong in the Toyota camp for Cup. For the Ford camp, I look for Carl Edwards to make a huge comeback. I am intrigued though to see how many drivers/teams can adapt to this new car..... Should be interesting.
As others have stated, since Earnhardt passing on February 18, 2001, I don't watch near as much as I used too. Not only that, but until NASCAR can get consistent with its cautions, rules and/or suspensions/fines, fans will continue to draw away from the sport. There is just too much favoritism for your top notch drivers.